Moral Panics, Social Fears, and the Media: Historical Perspectives, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Moral Panics, Social Fears, and the Media

Historical Perspectives, 1st Edition

Edited by Siân Nicholas, Tom O'Malley


264 pages | 4 B/W Illus.

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The media have always played a central role in organising the way ideas flow through societies. But what happens when those ideas are disruptive to normal social relations? Bringing together work by scholars in history, media and cultural studies and sociology, this collection explores this role in more depth and with more attention paid to the complexities behind conventional analyses. Attention is paid to morality and regulation; empire and film; the role of women; authoritarianism; wartime and fears of treachery; and fears of cultural contamination.

The book begins with essays that contextualise the theoretical and historiographical issues of the relationship between social fears, moral panics and the media. The second section provides case studies which illustrate the ways in which the media has participated in, or been seen as the source of, the creation of threats to society. Finally, the third section then shows how historical research calls into question simple assumptions about the relationship between the media and social disruption.

Table of Contents

Foreword Martin Barker Introduction Siân Nicholas and Tom O’Malley Part I: Approaches to the Media, Moral Panics and Social Fears 1. Model Answers: Moral Panics and Media History Chas Critcher 2. Moral Panics, Emotion and Newspaper History Kevin Williams 3. The Wertham Case: Evaluating Effects on Media Theories Janet Staiger Part II: The media as an object of fear 4. ‘I Will Answer You, My Friend, but I am Afraid’: Telephones and the Fear of a New Medium in Nineteenth and Early Twentieth-Century Italy Gabriele Balbi 5. The Dreadful World of Edwardian Wireless David Hendy 6. Cinema, Social Fears and Moral Panics in Britain’s Tropical Empire James Burns 7. The Response to Television in the UK 1947-77: A Study in the Media and Social Fear Tom O’Malley Part III: Panics, fear and the media 8. Unmarried: Unmarried Motherhood in Post-First World War British Film Eve Colpus 9. Watching the Detectives (and the Constables): Fearing the Police in 1920s Britain John Carter Wood 10. Fifth Columnists, Collaborators and Black Marketeers: Fearing the ‘Enemy Within’ in the Wartime British Media Siân Nicholas 11. Citizenship, Sexual Anxiety and Womanhood in Second World War Britain: the Case of the Man with the Cleft Chin Matthew Grant 12. ‘Enemy Television’: Fear as a Motive Force in East German Television Programming Claudia Dittmar 13. ‘The Ugly Tide of Today’s Teenage Violence’: Revisiting the Clockwork Orange Controversy in the UK Peter Krämer

About the Editors

Siân Nicholas is a Senior Lecturer in British History at Aberystwyth University and Co-Director of the Aberystwyth Centre for Media History, UK.

Tom O’Malley is Professor of Media in the Department of Theatre Film and Television at Aberystwyth University, UK.

About the Series

Routledge Research in Cultural and Media Studies

Cultural and media studies are now well-established as important academic disciplines and are inspiring new research into a wide range of pertinent issues. This series presents outstanding research in these subjects, helping to shape the direction of future inquiry.


To submit a proposal for this series, please contact:
Suzanne Richardson, Commissioning Editor for Media, Cultural and Communication Studies
[email protected]

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Social History
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Popular Culture
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Media Studies